Gluten-Free Sourdough Food for Bread Recipe

Are you someone who cringes at the sight of moldy growth on cheese left too long in the deli drawer of your fridge?

Do you shudder as you open the veggie drawer to see the furry blueberries left at the bottom of the crisper drawer after eating so many freshly picked ones your stomach hurt?

Then growing your own gluten-free sourdough food for bread starter might not be the fun experience I’ve had.

To grow your own yummy wild yeast colony means embracing the quirks and temperamental behavior of wild beings. Getting passionate about bubbles forming in solution, desiring the sour smell and taste that wild yeasties can give to your bread. It means craving the need to nurture and care for another living breathing being.

If you can embrace the unpredictably of wildness, here is the big secret about gluten-free sourdough.

It’s easy!

Gluten Free Sourdough Food for Bread Recipe

All you have to do is take equal amounts of the Gluten-Free Sourdough Food (recipe below) and water. Mix together well; Then put it in a glass jar, and leave it open to the air of your kitchen for a couple of days. The wild yeasts that surround you colonize the medium so wait and watch for growth.

Typically that it only takes a couple of days before you see tiny bubbles of gas separated by the flour mixture, before you see the surface moisture layer get thicker and frothy.
Before you have live wild yeast in your jar.

That’s it,

Just food, water and time and you will have your very own wild yeast colony.

Simple but there are places where you need to be cautious so you get yummy instead of yucky.

So lets gather our materials first and I’ll explain a bit of why I choose what I did to make my Starter mixture.

In the flour mix I attempted to match the protein, fats, fiber and carbohydrates of organic hard winter wheat flour.
That is the flour bread bakers who make a classic wholegrain wheat loaf use to create the thick crust, open-holed, tangy flavor and tender-threaded bread of my dreams.

Geeking out I created the flour chart to work out proportions.

Now before you get concerned about not having nutritional information about the overall quantities of fiber, fat, protein and carbohydrates in the mix, realize that for home chefs it is very difficult to do that analysis.
Someday I will be able to get it analyzed professionally and can see how close I got, but right now, I will let my success be the proof.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Starter Recipe-if you dare
I always measure by weight for precision. All of my flour's have come from Bob's Red Mill since they have a dedicated gluten-free facility. Feel free to use any flour manufacturer that you like, but verify that they are truly gluten-free first.
  • 583 grams (approximately 4⅓ cups)brown rice flour
  • 583 grams (approx. 4¾ cups) sorghum flour
  • 583 grams (approx. 4¾ cups) millet flour
  • 290 grams (approx. 1¾ cups) sweet rice flour
  • 74 grams (approx. ¾ cup) garfava (Garbanzo-Fava) flour
  • 155 grams (approx. 1¼ cups)white bean flour
  1. Stir together till one color. I measure by grams since that is the most exact of all measurements.
  2. To get enough sourdough starter for a batch of Sourdough Bread, mix together 600 grams of water and 600 grams of sourdough food in a gallon sized jar.
  3. Leave it open to the air for at least 2 days till it looks like the jar below, then stir in 300 grams of sourdough food and 300 grams water.
  4. Let it grow for a day or two.
  5. Stir in 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water.
  6. let it grow for 1-2 days
  7. stir in 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water.
  8. Let it grow and bake.
  9. My schedule tends to be: Mix up the initial food on Friday night or Saturday morning.
  10. Feed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  11. Bake on Saturday or Sunday then feed the remainder with 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water
  12. Repeat till you are so happy or tired of sourdough :)


Success is the norm for my recipes, all except the chocolate chip cookies.  Those were an epic fail. So I won’t be giving you that one, but I will be sharing all the others over time.

How to create a flour mix? Have you ever heard Shauna Ahern aka The Gluten-Free Girl, talk about this problem?  If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, seize the moment. Only a former teacher truly gets the body language in the description.

I will paraphrase:
Imagine a clique of middle schoolers bouncing down the hall of the school. Absolutely certain of their place in the world, they are an unparalleled force of nature.
There is the backbone girl of the clique, the one everyone goes to with their problems simply because she guides without flash and frenzy.
Sometimes there is another girl, one of substance and presence. Tender but firm, kind of a mommy figure, steadfast and homey.
There is the tender-hearted, moony one, the girl with the little hearts dotted over all her i’s.
Lastly the airy girls, flipping their hair just ‘cause they can, insubstantial but essential to the dynamics of the group.

Creating a flour mixture that works means gathering likewise diverse components together for balance in baking.

I started out by searching a strong backbone the mix, one that would allow growth and crust without adding too much density.

I chose organic brown rice flour for its fiber component, mild taste and strong firm presence.
Next I wanted to increase the homey flavor components since I find brown rice flour to be very bland, the goal was to be a bit more whole grain.
I really like sorghum flour for a wheaty taste and BONUS it has the highest protein quantities of all the typically available gluten-free flours, even higher than quinoa. Wish I could find it in organic but my local stores just don’t stock it.

Then I went looking for my tender-hearted flour and found it in millet. Millet flour is pale yellow and very soft. I tend to use it whenever I want a tender crumb structure.

The binder of the group I found in one of my favorite gluten-free flours, sweet rice flour aka glutinous rice flour. This flour has a few wonderful qualities.
It is bland.
It is a small, finely ground flour that works into the gaps between the brown rice flour grains and sticks them together.
This is my go-to flour structure in combination with brown rice flour.

And lastly for my starter flour blend, I reached for beans since I wasn’t anywhere close to the right protein quantity yet.
I use just a bit of garfava (garbonzo and fava bean mix) since I don’t truly love the taste. White bean flour is a larger component since it is very bland but adds a good quantity of both fiber and protein per ¼ cup.
Stirred all together till the color is uniform. This is the gluten-free sourdough food.

I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill flours for my mix. You can order them directly yourself right here.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and feel that shipping flours across the country is just ecologically silly. They’re heavy after all!
Whenever possible, I chose the organic ones*, but occasionally there isn’t that choice. If organic is something you value, make sure to ask anyway. The greater the demand, the more likely we will be able to order our flours in organic.

Now get a gallon glass jar if you plan on baking frequently. It doesn’t need to be sterilized, just make sure it is very clean.
Scoop out 600 grams of starter mix and add 600 grams of water. Stir well to blend the flour and water into a smooth batter.
Leave uncovered in your kitchen at room temperature.

In two days, you will see bubbles in the mixture and the liquid will have darkened a bit.

But what about the last group of girls, the airy ones?
They are added when we actually make the bread.
They are just too flighty to rest comfortably in water for days.

*One of the major reasons why I reach for organics is this research about genetically modifiedfood s and celiac disease. 

Another view is this one.



  1. Daryl says

    In your article you mentioned not being able to find organic sorghum flour. I buy mine on line from To Your Sprouted Health. They have a large list of organic gluten free sprouted flour. She has free shipping 2 times a year. All products are great. Just wondering if sprouted flour would work just as well in your recipes.

  2. Bridget says

    Hi, I had two questions. I really miss Sourdough Bread and wanted to make this for my family. Does this recipe make enough starter for one Sourdough Bread for one recipe? Also, how big of a bowl do I need for the starter?

    • says

      Hi Bridget,
      This recipe will feed your starter for 1-2 batches It depends on how long you feed your starter before you make the bread.
      I use a gallon jar for my starter.

  3. Pinki Dhillon says

    I so love your site! Your book is amazing. I am weighing all my flours and using your table for conversion religiously. I started the starter for sour dough bread. I added the flour and water to the jar and mixed them up and left it on the counter. Unfortunately all it did was get moldy. What do you think I did wrong?

      • Pinki Dhillon says

        I didn’t get a chance to feed it. Both times it got moldy within a day. No swimming pool nearby. Would it be better for me to put in the fridge? Or cover it up? How would your starter work? Seriously considering just getting it from you.

          • says

            Hi Pinki,
            What water did you use? Was it filtered or municipal water with chlorine?
            Bright blue mold is a first for me.
            Since your ambient temperature is high, I would try making the mixture of sourdough food and water, then putting it in the fridge. You’ll need to let it sit out for an hour first.

  4. Michelle says

    I love the idea of sourdough . I like to make the sourdough starter but do not want to use any bean or garbonzo bean flours could you tell me what flours I could substitute that with if possible I am really exicited to try this

    • says

      Hi Michelle,
      You would need to use a high protein flour, and most grains don’t have a high protein level like bean flours do. I really haven’t tried to substitute out the bean flour.

      Start from this chart of flours to make a decision about the substitution flours. Please let me know how it comes out.

  5. Thalie F says


    I’ve been so missing sourdough bread, but can’t seem to get the starter right.
    I’d like to take the easy way and order your dried starter.
    Just a question : Do you ship to Canada ? In the affirmative, what is the cost ?
    Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Thaile,
      The dried starter is considered food by the post office so I’m not sure it can be shipped to Canada. Where are you located? I’ll be speaking at the New Westminster GIG meeting on 10/27. I can bring along starter then if you can pick it up

      • Thalie F says

        Thanks for the offer.
        Unfortunately, I live in Quebec, though a weekend in B.C. would be great.
        I will try to find out if special authorizations are necessary to ship dried starter and get back to you.
        Have a great time in Canada.

  6. Lillian says

    Hi Dr L, have been trying your sourdough recipe for two weeks now, baked 4 loaves which come out very dense. The crows love it. Anyway, I am using oat flour instead of sorghum flour, that’s the only difference.

    I am unable to beat the mixture for 5 minutes, because although initially crumbly, it quite quickly becomes a firm dough and wraps around the beaters.

    I don’t have any bubbles or hooch, but there is definitely a yeasty smell. Also, it is not doubling in size, even when we leave it overnight. I am continuing to feed my starter but would like any suggestions you might have for getting the mixture to rise and come out less dense
    Thanking you in anticipation

    • says

      Hi Lillian,
      Sounds like you have some challenges, so lets investigate a bit.
      Are you substituting the oat flour for sorghum by weight or volume? If you are measuring by volume, the amount of flour is actually quite different.
      Has the starter been grown on oat flour? I’ve never substituted for the starter flour mixture so I really don’t know if it will work.
      How old is your starter? If it isn’t at least a week old, then it won’t have enough live yeasties to rise a loaf.
      Let me know

  7. Emily says

    Hi Dr. Layton,

    I was experimenting with this recipe and apparently I have royally messed up somehow. My starter smells off, has no bubbles, and no hooch. It’s just pasty. Any suggestions so to where I might have gone wrong?

    Thanks a bunch.

  8. says


    While I’m not a sourdough fan myself, so many are. I shared this recipe with my readers on the website as well as on the FB page, as I believe many will find it a welcome treat!!

    Thank you for your time and work in developing it. :)



  9. Avril says

    Hi Dr. Layton! I just was checking back to see if by chance there was a video. :) No pressure. Where should I be looking for it though so I know where to find it when it’s there? Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Avril.
      I haven’t managed to start up my sourdough since we moved. I do plan on doing it soon but you’ll understand why I have been busy once my post goes up over the weekend.

      • Avril says

        That’s ok! I’m sure you’re busy! I was just wondering where I should look for it so I don’t just think it’s not there when it is! Thank you. :)

  10. Katie in Ohio says

    Hi Jean, I am anxiously awaiting my delicious sourdough starter to finish so I can make my bread! Is it supposed to be kind of thick? Mine is very thick but the bubbles are starting. Thanks for your help!

  11. Julie says

    Hi – just want to say thanks for the fantastic site and information. Your responses on this page and the one with the bread recipe may have helped me figure out what I was doing that was causing my loaves to be less than perfect.

    In one response to another commenter, you said if the bread was too dense and gummy inside, it might be because you didn’t the boule rise til double its size before baking. i think i’ve been going too much by the clock and just letting it rise 4 hrs in the oven-light-warmed oven instead of really paying attention to it being double the size it started.

    There have been a couple of commenters with confusion about how much water and flour to use when you feed the starter. in your comments on the page with the bread recipe, you say one cup each of flour and water, but in the starter recipe on this page, it’s 300 grams of flour and 300 grams of water. on my scale the 300 grams of flour mix is about 2.5 cups of flour and the 300 grams of water is about 1.5 cups of water. That could explain why some people have hooch on top and some don’t. i think you mean a cup of each, though, because you said that really clearly on the other page.

    i’ve made about a dozen loaves with another recipe so far and they’ve tasted good, but too dense and too wet inside. because of your site, i ordered a scale and am trying to make a boule with your recipe today. it’s in the oven rising right now. i’m optimistic! *fingers crossed*

    I did want to offer one suggestion to you & your other readers: i have so missed the flavor of the wheat sourdough bread that one of my friends makes, so i got a small canning jar of starter from her. i wanted her yeasties!

    Then I mixed the gluten-free flour mix and water together in a large container and set her jar in the midst of the gluten-free mix. I covered the unit with a mesh vegetable bag and set a piece of paper on top of the bag. Think of a moat with the GF flour mix as the water and the gluten flour mix with yummy yeasties as the castle inside its own jar. I set the paper on top in the hopes that her yeasties would rise, hit the paper and drop into the moat. They did! By the next day I had her yeasties bubbling madly in my GF moat.

    I kept them together like that, not getting the gluten mix into my GF mix, but feeding both to keep them going, for about a week. Now I’m going to discard the gluten starter and hope that the GF mix is going to make it on its own.

    A few days ago I made a baguette with that starter and i liked the flavor so much better than the previous starter I had that was made using wild yeast off of cabbage. This tastes like sourdough that i remember!

    Just wanted to offer that possibility in case others have a particular familiar yeast flavor they are longing for as well!

    • says

      Hi Julie,
      That is a fabulous suggestion! Since many people don’t bake frequently, they wouldn’t have as many wild yeast in the air.
      This would work really well. Great way to get the flavor you want and keep yourself safe.
      I am going to take part of my girls spring break and rework the recipes for Gluten-Free sourdough. They promise to help me create a video as well.
      Stay tuned for the premier.

      • Julie says

        argh, i’ve spent the afternoon reading on while the boule was rising. they seem to be saying what you are saying in the recipe here – you want to feed your starter by weight rather than volume.

        my brain is about to explode at this point! Which method do you use for feeding the starter?

        the boule didn’t double in size. i wonder if i should have fed it more recently than 3 days. i used it and fed it on Saturday, then put it in the fridge. pulled it out today (Tuesday), stirred it and used it.

        It’s baking now. I let it rise in a parchment paper lined stainless steel mixing bowl. When the oven and dutch oven were at 450*, I set the entire mixing bowl into the dutch oven, sprayed the loaf with water, put on the lid and put it back in the oven. fingers are still crossed!

        my questions – 1) can you clarify about the amounts of feeding and watering the starter and 2) should i have fed it more recently before i used it?

        • Julie says

          the boule came out fairly nicely. the crumb was so tiny, though, it was more like a piece of Wonder bread than sourdough. I think that was from not rising enough. I’ll keep trying. I’ll check back to see about the amounts of water and flour because that definitely makes a difference in the fluidity of the starter, which no doubt affects the rest of the process and the resulting loaf.

          i am deciding that i’m not keen on the taste of sorghum and am going to leave it in the starter food mix (already prepared) but replace it with brown rice flour in the baking mix next time.

          hope you’re enjoying spring break with your daughters! thanks again for sharing your work with the rest of us.

    • Julie says

      Still working on this project! Yesterday I poured off the hooch before making the sourdough baguettes and BINGO! That’s the flavor i’m not liking. I thought it was the sorghum flour, but that wasn’t it. This loaf has a much better flavor than the previous ones with the hooch stirred in. It seemed like the first loaf after starting the starter was better tasting than the later ones, so i took aim at the hooch.

      My girlfriend, who is a sourdough baker expert, said that the timing on feeding and mixing is important. So I’ve been feeding the starter, waiting til i see bubbling (about 3 hours) and then mixing and rising the dough. I’m still having mighty flat, dense loaves so am going to try adding packaged yeast in to get it to rise. Not sure why my yeasties aren’t vigorous enough, but they don’t seem very strong. At least the taste is finally good. my family gave it a 2 thumbs up!

  12. Anita says

    Is it possible to make sour dough bread without rice flour. I am not only Gluten intolerant I am also allergic to rice.

    Thank you!


  13. Avril says

    My comment seems to have disapeared. :( I am so trying to figure all this out! I really appreciate your information but have a couple questions. First, I can’t seem to find your picture of your starter. Do you mind emailing it to me? Some people seem to feed their starter much more often. And some say to stir every 12 hours or more. Some people say to pour off the hooch when you develop some and feed it when you get hooch. What do you think about this?
    Also, can I bake the bread in ceramic dish with lid and if so, what size of dish?

    • says

      Hi Avril,
      your first comment didn’t disappear, it just went into a queue awaiting moderation.
      Since I’ve been moving my office, I just now cleared the queue.

      I don’t have another picture of the starter, it just doesn’t photograph well.
      I know that other sourdough recipes have different schedules for feeding and stirring their starters. My schedule and timing reflects what I understand to be the optimal times to feed and stir this starter.
      You can bake the bread in any pan you have, the cast iron just gives the best, dense crust.

      • Avril says

        Thank you again for your responses. :) I’m sure you’re very busy and the help is greatly appreciated!
        Does the size of the pan matter or would I need to make any adjustments baking it depending on the size of the pan?
        So do I only stir the starter when I’m feeding it and the rest of the time leave it alone? Is it ok to have a layer of “hooch” on top? Thanks :)

        • says

          Hi Avril.
          If you are making sourdough the pan size won’t really matter. Just make sure you have enough room to allow the dough to double in size..
          You don’t have to stir the starter between feedings.
          The hooch should rise to the top.

          • Avril says

            Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us! I am excited to see the starter looking good and am anxious to try my first loaf. Just waiting to follow the feeding schedule first. If I store the starter in the fridge after I make my first loaf, should I leave the starter on the counter when I feed it once a week for a bit before I put it back in the fridge?
            I’ll probably make a couple loaves a week to feed my family. What would be your suggestion to get to where I can make a couple loaves a week and still keep starter going? Thanks!

          • Avril says

            Thanks for all your help. I have just a couple more questions. 😐 Sorry to bother you so much. If I store the starter in the fridge, do I need to keep it covered? Also, should I have leave it out on the counter for a while after I feed it once a week? If so, how long? Thanks a bunch!

          • says

            I always keep my starter covered in the fridge. It is just to easy to knock it over or drop something in it otherwise.
            If you want to bake again quickly, then leave it on the counter. But if you only want to bake once a week, you can pop it back into the fridge after feeding it.

  14. says

    As a celiac living in SF, I’m constantly walking by restaurants and bakeries selling sourdough bread and bread bowls. It smells insanely good but of course I know it’s not for me. I really need to try making my own!

  15. Roadrunner13 says

    How long does one need to feed and wait for a starter to be ready to be used in bread when it is not the very first starter? I’ve got a rather large bowl full and started feeding the “extra” starter Sunday night, and today is Tuesday, and it is very happy, bubbly, and a lot. :) Thank you . . . and thank you for all the very helpful information you have provided. I’m having fun weighing and altering and baking.

      • Roadrunner13 says

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! So, it’s only a matter of quantity after the first week of getting the starter going? That’s awesome. I had planned to bake this afternoon, but I may have to make that tomorrow if I need to go somewhere this afternoon. I’m learning tons and have a lot of fun too. I’ll let you know how it comes out this time. The first bread was a dismal “unsuccess” as was my first starter. :( However, I won’t give up. I modified the mix yet again and this time, I think it will work. (I have a major problem making a recipe as it reads.)

        • says

          Yes, exactly. Once you get the yeasties growing, you can feed them more quickly and create bread at will.
          Can I encourage you to try the recipe as written at least once? It took me over 9 months of trials and errors to birth this recipe. I’d hate to have you need to reinvent the wheel.

          • Roadrunner13 says

            :) I really, really dislike the beany taste, so I’ve been playing around with hemp flour to replace that portion. After my second try — increasingly successful, but still not quite there — I have made further adjustments and will try a third one, which I think/hope will work. I will say, though, that beany taste is far better than too much hemp! Plus, I want this to work for those allergic to chick peas as well. I will consider making your recipe for just home use, but I cannot share the bread with many people, which is why I am trying to change it. Living overseas for many years and simply not having ingredients that were called for in most recipes has rendered me a hopeless substituter in recipes. :) Great experience, though. My second loaf (I’m making half recipes.) is way better than the first, although still too much hemp flavor. I did find that waiting 24 hours lessened the hemp taste, so I will see how this one tastes tomorrow. While waiting, I have readjusted the mix again, decreasing the hemp yet again, yet maintaining the protein content. I might bake it on Friday — depending on time constraints.

          • says

            I do understand about the beany flavor, but I found hemp to be even less palatable.
            I’ve thought of using pea protein but haven’t located a retail source for it.
            Let me know how your bread comes out.

  16. Kathy says

    THank you for all the details you put into this recipe. I am a bit confused, I can’t deciper the difference between starter dough, and starter food. Both links bring up the same page. I wonder when you have amoment, if you could help decipher. It looks great, just unsure of all the steps, thank you again.

  17. says

    Hi Dr. L; what a blessing to find your link! Two months ago I had to make my bakery completely GF. That has been a challenge, but the biggest thing was giving up my faithful SD starter Audrey. She’d been with me since I started her in San Francisco back in ’06. So I’ve been on a quest to get a new GF one going. So far yours makes the absolute most sense with your balancing the aspects of the different flours. So I shall give it a shot. What is the largest batch size you’ve ever scaled it up to successfully? So many of the books I’ve ordered have said that doubling is the most you can do without affecting the quality. From a commercial standpoint that would be a death knell! Thank you in advance for any advice!

    • says

      Hi Heather,
      Glad you found my post, it sounds like you are on a quest for the right starter.
      I haven’t scaled larger than 4 loaves at a time due to machinery limitations, but can’t see why you couldn’t.
      We can chat about my assisting you to scale up, my chef training comes in handy for these adventures.

  18. Shelly Caldwell says

    My son was just diagnosed with gluten allergies and others as well. He is not able to eat beans at this time and I was thinking about using coconut flour(from Bob’s Red Mill) instead of the bean flour(s). Do you know what the protein content might be? The bag says it is great for baking. Looking forward to using the sourdough starter – I have my own, but of course, they are not gluten free.

    • says

      You are an amazing Mom to be so willing to bake gluten-free bread.
      Since your boy can’t have the bean flours, I’m going to ask for a bit of patience. I’ve figured out a lovely bread loaf that uses no beans and no gums, but I haven’t yet perfected the sourdough version yet.
      I’m hoping to get a good baking weekend in this coming weekend, testing a couple of ideas.
      Can you be patient for another week or so?
      Dr. Jean

      • Shelly Caldwell says

        Of course I can be patient…thank you for all the effort you put forth for us. I am going to research the cocnut flour some more as well.

        • says

          Hi Nan,
          I haven’t even tried since one of my daughters won’t eat coconut unless it is hidden. If you do,please let me know how it comes out.

  19. Lee jenkins says

    Will the SD starter keep going like a wheat based one? Or do i need to throw it out and make a new one each time? I’m in france, so hopefully, the airborne yeast will be kind to me. Thanks!

    • says

      Yes, as long as you stir it and feed it. If you keep it out of the fridge, stir and feed every day or two. If you keep it chilled you can feed and stir weekly
      Let me know how it comes out.

      • Kathy says

        So, the directions for the starter are measured in grams and the water part is a little confusing to me. You would add the equal amount of grams of flours as the water?

        I think your work is amazing – and I love the spreadsheets!

        • says

          Hi Kathy,
          Yes, I measure both the flour and the water in grams. I just put the flour amount into the jar, then zero out the scale and add water till it matches.
          Thanks for the compliment about the spreadsheets, I’m just geeky that way

  20. Nancy Day says

    I was delighted to find out a GF sourdough starter is available. My question is also – is the starter still available? I have been advised I need to avoid commercial yeast products.

    Thank you for your research for us all.

    Nancy Day

    • says

      Hi Nancy,
      Oh yes, the dried starter packets are definitely still available.  Just send a self addressed stamped envelope (3 forever stamps) with a donation to the Healthy Gluten Free Kids group.

  21. Jennifer Patterson says

    Thank you for this post. Is your starter packets still available? My 5 yr old was just diagnosed with Celiac’s disease and she really misses sourdough bread. Please let me know. 

    Thank you for your time and help.
    Thank you, Jennifer Patterson
    Mother of Twins, and a GF girl.